What do you learn from growing mushrooms?

Growing mushrooms at home is a rewarding process that takes the grower from the very beginning – inoculating your substrate with liquid mushroom culture – through the end harvest of your mushrooms and finally experiencing the thrill of cooking with them.

What is only known to those who have grown mushrooms, however, is that there is a whole other layer of reward in growing them, hidden away from anyone who hasn’t taken the dive into the growing experience. Aside from learning to grow and harvest mushrooms, growing mushrooms actually gives you a wealth of personal growth experiences that often surprise new growers.

For me personally, I found myself drawn into the process of cleaning and preparing my space for growing oyster mushrooms – you might hear a chef refer to Mise en place – french for putting in place – and it means to prepare everything in your workspace and having all of the ingredients that you will need properly prepared and at hand. Growing mushrooms teaches a similar discipline that I found myself unable to shake after my first mushroom growing experience; you find a meditative bliss in cleaning and preparing everything to grow.

Similar to bonsai, cultivating mushrooms also requires simple but essential ongoing effort. Daily misting and fanning develop into a calming and quieting ongoing routine that only takes moments out of your day, but I quickly found that this discipline of consistency began to overflow in other areas of my life in ways that I hadn’t noticed needed my attention before.

Cleanliness is also a big factor in successfully growing your own mushrooms – renegade bacteria and mold are the biggest threat to newly established mycelium, and becoming aware of this and learning to be more in tune with the workspace has made me and many other mushroom-growing aficionados into far cleaner people on a day-to-day basis.

In addition to personal growth, growing your own mushrooms gives you an up-close look at the incredible world of mushrooms. They are fascinating in many ways – they don’t photosynthesize the way plants do, and they have the capacity to form enormous mycelial networks underground that they can use to communicate through, and many kinds of mushrooms can be used for astonishing things – oyster mushrooms can potentially be used to clean up oil spills or craft exceptional meals, boost immune systems and lower cholesterol. Growing your own mushrooms gives you a peek into the least-explored kingdom in our universe and offers you the chance to explore and make your own discoveries in the world of mushrooms.

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